Thursday, June 30, 2016

Family photo: 5 guys at Laurel High

Here's another cardboard-mounted photo from the family archives. This one is labeled "Laurel High School 1909?" and it features my great-grandfather, Howard Horsey Adams. (That would be Laurel, Delaware.) Howard was about 17 years old at the time, and this is about five years before he was introduced to my great-grandmother.

Here's a closer look at the photograph...

And let's zoom in further on the five young men...

My great-grandfather is in the front row, on the right. Here's the (almost) full rundown, per the notes on the back of the photo:

Front row, from left: Unknown and Howard Adams

Middle row: Clifford Studley

Back row, from left: Elijah Hastings and Carleton Hearn

So, if any of you are related to Clifford, Elijah or Clareton, then this is confirmation than our ancestors used to hang out!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nice discoveries: Mina's Ghost and Maxim Peter Griffin

I purchased the eponymous CD "Mina's Ghost" partially because I liked the folk-pop sound of the London-based band and partially because I really dug the cover art by Maxim Peter Griffin.

Mina's Ghost is a nice little discovery. If you like trying new music, you can check them out on SoundCloud. ("Bad Decisions" is a good place to start, but start anywhere.) You can discover more about Mina's Ghost here and on Facebook.

Maxim Peter Griffin has been mentioned on Papergreat before, in "Questions, answers & mysteries with Hookland's David Southwell (Part 2)." It was through Southwell that I discovered MPG. His "job description" on his Twitter account is "Illustrations, Field Notes, Cartography & Psychedelic Geology." If you go to his artwork-filled website, you'll find a weirder, more whimsical biography:
"Maxim Peter Griffin is dark green and of tweed. Eater of the sausage bun, fleeter through the market place, lamenter of Stan, he is tea van happy.

"He walks, at least a whole day of each season, here-to-theres in between and the wish to walk more. On walking he photographs; the pictures follow. He prefers to picture the places he has been.

"He has been to Horseshoe Point, to Biscathorpe, through old tracks and salt flats and Fine Art in Bath. He has admired pylons' lines, motorways, barrows and deserted villages across the road.

"He has been to more cemetaries and made more headstones than he ever intended, although was able to invoke a few vikings in stone and onto their Way.

"Driven on by German electronica and ambient shouting, hounded into the late night by drinking of too much tea, he now makes pictures from the middle of Lincolnshire, dipping their edges in other places.

"There is talk of tumuli."

He's somewhat spread out, in bits and pieces and dribs and drabs, all across the Internet, but here's a guide to some of the places to find Maxim Peter Griffin in the wild:

Summer fun: Roller-skating, swimming and more at Playland

This will bring back memories for certain generations that grew up in York County. It's an unused black-and-white postcard showcasing Playland, a sprawling recreation facility that was located on Lincoln Highway just east of York. Playland offered roller skating, swimming, miniature golf and more. It started as Playland, but changed owners and names several times during its existence, which was from 1941 until 1985, when a fire tore through the facilities.

When I came across this postcard, it was also accompanied by this label. Not sure what its purpose was. It might have been pasted to the front of a brochure box. The small graphics are pretty nifty, though the portrayal of miniature golf leaves a bit to be desired.

Given its years of operation, much has been written about Playland and many memories have been shared online. It was the scene of countless happy childhood memories. (And you can feel free to share your own in the Comments!) Here are some places to read more about it:

I wasn't much of a roller-skater growing up. In the first half of the 1980s, I did have a pair of those adjustable metal contraptions that you attached to your sneakers. I would cruise around the sidewalks a bit on those, watching for bumps and cracks. In Montoursville, we had a roller rink — I think it was called Great Skate — where I attended a few parties and skated around on their oval. I also remember taking breaks from the skating to play arcade games such as Frogger and Defender. I'm not sure how long Great Skate lasted in Montoursville, but I don't think it had the longevity or the depth of memories associated with Playland.

Monday, June 27, 2016

This week's summer reading

Near Hanover Junction Railroad Station, York County, Pa. (June 2016). Instagram photo by me.

OK, kids (and kids at heart), summer vacation isn't just about sleeping in, playing Atari and riding your bikes down to Pop's Corner Store to buy bubble gum and baseball cards. You also need to keep nourishing your mind. So here are a dandy dozen articles of note about national and world events, with some history, sociology and pop culture mixed in.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Breaker boys: Postcard of child labor in Scranton, circa 1910

This damaged postcard, from around 1910, shows the Marvine Breaker (the tall building in the backgorund) and the Breaker Boys — child workers. The location is Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The postcard was made in Germany and published by C.S. Woolworth, also of Scranton. It was never written on or used.

Breaker boys' tough and dirty job was to separate the impurities from the coal by hand, and without gloves. Most breaker boys were children, and this form of child labor, which began in the 1860s, did not end until the 1920s. Their job is described in this Wikipedia excerpt:
"The removal of impurities was done by hand, usually by breaker boys between the ages of eight and 12 years old. ... For 10 hours a day, six days a week, breaker boys would sit on wooden seats, perched over the chutes and conveyor belts, picking slate and other impurities out of the coal. Breaker boys working on top of chutes or conveyor belts would stop the coal by pushing their boots into the stream of fuel flowing beneath them, briefly pick out the impurities, and then let the coal pass on to the next breaker boy for further processing."
You can see breaker boys performing their duties in this postcard that was featured on Papergreat in 2011.

Job hazards for the children included frequent hand and figure cuts and accidental finger amputations in the machinery. Those were the minor hazards. Some were crushed to death under piles of coal or mangled in conveyor belts and gears. If they survived a few years of this labor, they might have asthma or lung disease as a parting gift. (Actually, if they survived being breaker boys, they most likely got sent down into the coal mines.)

The breaker boys in this postcard/photo look content. Maybe they were told to smile. Or maybe they were new recruits who hadn't yet spent much time perched over the coal chutes.

Some of them have objects that look like flowers. That might, though, be the result of the person hand-coloring the postcard and taking some artistic license. Here's a closer look at some of the breaker boys of long ago...

More info on breaker boys

Friday, June 24, 2016

1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision, Episode III

Back in July 2012, I featured DC Comics' Batman hawking Twinkies1 in a comic-book advertisement. Today, in the interest of giving equal time to Marvel Comics, I am presenting portions of the Twinkie advertisement "Thor Meets a Glutton for Gold" from the May 1978 issue (#39) of "Marvel Two-in-One."

The full-page advertisement features a little mystery involving Thor and Asgard's disappearing stockpile of gold.2 But gold-thief Gudrun the Golden3 is foiled when Thor sets a trap involving the Hostess snack cakes.4 And when Gudrun is captured, Thor exclaims, "Thy taste for gold has entrapped thee!!!!!!" (Yes, with six exclamation points. This is the comics, after all.)

Meanwhile, another Asgardian exclaims, "The creamed filling, too, is worthy of the gods."

Here's the triumphant final panel of the advertisement.

In 2009, Teague Bohlen5 wrote an article titled "The 10 Dumbest Comic Book Hostess Ads" for The Robot's Voice. His (slightly edited) summary of the advertisement is as follows:
"So let me get this straight: Gudrun the Golden is stealing the gold from Asgard. Thor’s brilliant plan is to hook him instead with golden-hued Twinkies, so he leaves the real gold alone. Which works. But then at the end, Thor and Sif are talking about how Twinkies are preferable to real gold ... so didn’t you just completely [screw] Asgard over, Thor? Nice work, God of Blunder."
Actually, I'm going to side with Thor on this one, Teague. The love of gold is one of the roots of evil. If nobody — on any planet, real or otherwise — hoarded or coveted or overvalued gold, we'd have a lot fewer problems. And much more time to eat Twinkies and read comics.

1. Fun fact: In Mexico, there is a version of Twinkies called Submarinos. And they even come in different flavors.
2. It's really depressing to imagine that the love for, hoarding of and fighting over gold spreads even to other (imaginary) planets.
3. Gudrun has his own bio page on the Marvel Wikia. It's kind of sparse, but here are some highlights:
  • Powers: Asgardian physiology
  • Weaknesses: Golden Hostess Twinkies Snack Cakes
  • Unusual Features: Moustache and beard
4. I didn't know that Hostess delivered to Asgard. I wonder if the Asgardians like Ding Dongs, too.
5. I don't know if "Teague Bohlen" is his/her real name, but that person also wrote an article titled "10 Very, Very Strange intellivision Games." Among the 10 are Frog Bog, Kool-Aid Man! and Microsurgeon. It's possible I had two of those games.

Mystery photo: A girl and her doll

Here's another mystery photo from the family archives. The cardboard measures 2⅛ inches wide by 2¾ inches tall, and the photograph of the young girl with her doll is just 1¼ inches wide.

The faint pencil handwriting on the back, which likely includes a name, is no longer legible, so we're pretty much stuck.

Note the pinholes in the top and bottom of the cardboard. And one final thing we know is that the photo studio was in Wilmington, Delaware.

Here's a closer look at the young lady and her doll...

Other posts with dolls

Reddy Kilowatt & the Tower of Light at the 1964 New York World's Fair

Electricity-generation mascot Reddy Kilowatt made his first appearance on Papergreat more than 254 weeks ago, in a post highlighting the advertisements featured in a 1953 Philadelphia Phillies baseball scorecard.

Today, Mr. Kilowatt — who was "born" way back in 1926 — is shown on a Dexter Color New York postcard for the Tower of Light at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.

Here's the text from the back of the postcard:
Reddy Kilowatt says:
"At the New York World's Fair, the Tower of Light is the world's most brilliant welcome light.
"A Total Electric Gold Medallion Home is the world's most modern home — it's as clean as electric light itself. See your local electric utility company for complete information."
(Pay no attention, of course, to the original source of your "clean" electric light.)

But what about this Tower of Light? Here are some fun facts:
  • Description from the 1964 official guide to the fair: "The world's most powerful searchlight beam rises from the center of this unusual building, whose exterior walls consist of 600 aluminum prisms fitted together to form an eye-catching pattern."
  • The beam of light emanating from the center of the pavilion reportedly had 12-billion candle-power and could be seen for hundreds of miles. Officials stated they were prepared to turn off the light if it affected migrating birds.
  • The 25-minute Tower of Light theater show on the wonders of "electrical living" featured Reddy Kilowatt and Light-Bulb Benjamin Franklin.
For literally the entire history of the Tower of the Light, check out Bill Young's website. It has a nine-page article on the Tower of the Light that starts here. Click on the "Topic Content" drop-down menu in the upper-left to get to each section. Information includes brochures, memories and the entire script of the Reddy Kilowatt/Benjamin Franklin presentation.